PA-Gov: National Journal Calls Race “Near-Automatic Pickup” for Dems

Tom-Corbett-upsetTom Wolf and the state’s Democrats look in prime position to pick up the governorship of the Keystone State after clearing the dog days of summer.

This is the feeling at least of Emily Schultheis of the National Journal, who wrote a preview of the nation landscape for gubernatorial elections this November.

She asserts that no one believed the Governor would be down this much in the polls by Labor Day while pointing out the most recent Franklin and Marshall poll. Schultheis contrasts Corbett’s difficulties to Ohio Gov. John Kasich who is experiencing a much easier time in his battle for re-election.

Chris Borick, a pollster for Muhlenberg College told the National Journal that he believes the gap between Corbett and Wolf comes down to public perception.

“[Corbett is] a known entity: He was attorney general, he’s been governor for three and a half years, he has established his public image and it’s not a good one,” Borick said. “For Corbett to, as an incumbent, change the race is going to be a challenge—and up to this point it’s seemed he is simply going to be unable to do that.”

Following the F&M poll, a Corbet internal memo was distributed presenting the incumbent as a worthy challenger, only down 7 points. Furthermore, Corbett campaign manager, Mike Barley took to twitter Thursday, denouncing the “junk poll.”

Nevertheless, the incumbent still remains behind and the longer that is the case the steeper the climb will be. The National Journal posited that the Governor’s poor numbers could lead to the RGA withdrawing their support. Given the importance of PA to the national landscape and Gov. Corbett’s relationship with RGA Chair Chris Christie that would seem to be an unlikely event.

Gov. Rendell Calls New York the Favorite to Host the 2016 DNC

barclays-centerFormer Mayor of Philadelphia and Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell, says New York is the favorite to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

“The money makes New York the favorite,” Rendell said in an interview with AM 970 on Sunday morning. He cited the large amounts of money within the city, and previous money troubles with the 2012 convention as the reasons why Brooklyn could be the 2016 host.

According to the ex-Gov, the Democrats were left with $25 million in payments for the 2012 convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, after they failed to raise enough cash. Rendell says the Democrats do not want to make the same mistake again.

“The DNC is bound and determined not to have a debt, and they believe that the…surest city to raise the money necessary is New York,” Rendell said. “And who can quarrel with them, when one out of every 25 people in New York is a millionaire?”

Despite believing New York will host the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Rendell is not giving hope just yet. He still says Philadelphia has the logistics advantage over its competitors and that “it’s going to be easier to have the convention in Philadelphia.”

Michael Nutter, the current Mayor of Philadelphia, previously mentioned the logistics of Philadelphia hosting the convention.

“They want to know about buses, about how you get to the venue, and how walkable and how easy it is to get around Philadelphia – and the historic things that are here you can’t see anywhere else.”

Should New York host the convention, the speeches would be held at the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, and the delegates would be shuttled over from hotels in Manhattan. New York would essentially split the convention between the two boroughs, while hosting in Philadelphia would be in one centralized location.

Besides New York and Philadelphia, there are three other cities still in the running for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Birmingham, Alabama; Columbus, Ohio; and Phoenix, Arizona.

A decision on which city will be chosen to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention is expected to be announced in late 2014, although the selection process could continue into 2015.

Reader Poll: Is Your Mind Already Made Up?

Voting-boothLabor Day has come and gone, so now according to tradition, the fall election season will officially begin.

In 2014, though, it’s worth asking whether the old Labor Day marker really means anything at all anymore.

With a 24/7 news cycle and a “permanent campaign” mindset prevalent throughout the nation, it seems worth asking whether the fall campaign and all it includes (debates, TV attack ads and massive get-out-the-vote efforts) really matters at all.

Therefore, we decided to ask you our dear readers, whether you’ve already decided who to vote for in the major electoral contests. For our purposes, we’ll classify major elections as the races for Governor, Congress, State Senate (where it applies) and State Representative.

So, have you already decided who you’re going to vote for in the major elections this year?

Have you already decided which candidates you're going to vote for this year?

View Results

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Reader Poll: Republicans Will Hold State Senate

Harrisburg-Capitol-steps2The Republican Party will maintain their longstanding majority in the Pennsylvania State Senate.

That is the belief, at least, of our readers after we laid out the plan for Democrats to flip the chamber. The current partisan breakdown is 27 Republicans to 23 Democrats.

558 readers believe that the GOP will stay in the majority.

Meanwhile, just 356 respondents chose the Democrats to take the two or three seats (depending on whether Wolf-Stack wins and breaks a tie) necessary to control the Senate.

The full results are included below:

Which Party Will Control the State Senate After the November Elections?


  • Republicans (61%)
  • Democrats (39%)

Total Voters: 914

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9/2 Morning Buzz

PA-state-flag6President Obama will be campaigning in PA, the DEP releases documents showing water well contamination and we give our weekly round-up of news in the gubernatorial contest. Plus, last week’s Ups & Downs! Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz!

8/29 Ups & Downs: Wolf maintains his lead, Adolph gets a new opponent and things are looking grim for Chaka Fattah. See who made this week’s list.

White House Suggests President Obama Will Campaign in PA This Fall: President Obama may be visiting the Keystone State in the run-up to the midterm elections.

DEP: Water Wells Were Contaminated by Drilling 243 Times: Department of Environmental Protection documents show that there have been 243 cases of water wells being harmed in the last six years.

PA-Gov Round-Up: Wine, Six-Packs and Gender Gaffes: We take a look at the events of the last week in the state’s gubernatorial race.

Delaware Valley Dems Gather to Push for Infrastructure: Boyle, Trivedi and Kane joined together to call for more investment in rail.

Statewide
PA Independent:PA’s debt would cost taxpayers $14,500 each to pay off today
State House Sound Bites: Feds approve Corbett’s Medicaid expansion
Capitolwire: Amid calls for more education spending, report criticizes district spending on low-performing charter schools
StateImpactPA: DEP publishes details on 248 cases of water damage from gas development

Philadelphia
AP: 5 differences between Gov. Corbett, opponent Wolf
PhillyClout: Corbett campaign slams Daily News- F&M college “junk poll”
WHYY Newsworks: After splintering over convention center terms, Philly unions divided over picket lines
City Paper: Bank documents show hundreds of thousands in re-routed NAACP checks
Philly.com: For union stagehands, Labor Day is a day of labor

SEPA
Pottstown Mercury: Pensions, construction drive rise in reserves
Pottstown Mercury: University bets $10 million on poor city’s kids
Delco Daily Times: Eyes on the Prize: McGarrigle and Kane set to square off for Pa. Senate 26th District Seat
Delco Daily Times: Rose Valley councilwoman resigns
Montgomery Media: Hilltown Official: Bridge replacement took longer, cost more because of federal and state money
Bucks Local News: ShopRite brings tax revenue, jobs to Lower Makefield; officials cut the ribbon on area’s newest grocery store

Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review: Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett’s Medicaid change expected to have little impact with voters
Tribune-Review: Democratic gubernatorial nominee in spotlight at Labor Day Parade
Post-Gazette: Wolf says he would consider a traditional Medicaid expansion
Post-Gazette: Shrinking organized labor to show political clout in Pittsburgh parade
Post-Gazette: Shale drillers’ landfill records don’t match those of Pennsylvania DEP

Southwest
Observer-Reporter: Coal supporters see reign lasting, despite challenges
Times Online: Bad poll for Corbett fuels Twitter attack
Times Online: Families, advocates react to low wages for people with disabilities

NEPA
The Times-Tribune: New effort to decriminalize liquor buys
The Times-Tribune: $90 billion left in Marcellus Shale, analyst says
The Times-Tribune: Court fee hike supports legal services
Times Leader: Luzerne County juggling union negotiations
Times Leader: ‘Labor’ has different meaning now

South Central
Today’s the Day Harrisburg: John Campbell resigns in light of theft charges and felony trial
Patriot News: Disillusion electorate places congressional incumbents on the “glide path” to reelection
Patriot News: Dauphin County judge sides with trust company; orders the City of Harrisburg to condemn local property
Patriot News: Court bars release of sexually-explicit emails shared among staffers during Sandusky probe
Patriot News: Labor Day no longer official start of campaign season in PA governor’s race
Patriot News: Finalized Pennsylvania 2014 general election ballots shows several contested races for midstate voters.
York Dispatch: Despite negative ads, Wolf maintains double-digit lead over Corbett in latest polls
York Daily Record: Five key policy differences between Gov. Corbett and opponent, Wolf
Carlisle Sentinel: GOP chairman credits party with economic increases in Cumberland

Lehigh Valley
Express News: Northampton drug court could ease systemic pressures and keep nonviolent offenders out of jail
Reading Eagle: Under new redistricting, GOP hopes to maintain presence in PA legislature
WFMZ: Sen. Casey unveils “Caregiver” bill to connect volunteers with Easton human services agencies
WFMZ: Sen. Toomey seeks to keep internet affordable
Morning Call: Gov. Corbett gives Persian Gulf veterans one more year to apply for benefits
Morning Call: Corbett campaign “shoots the messenger” with F&M pollsters Twitter-blast

North by Northwest
Erie Times-News: Montgomery County man mounts write-in campaign for governor
Onward State: State of State Committee member applications live online

Opinion
Express News: Editorial: Corbett administration and federal government agree on a type of privatized Medicaid expansion for low-income Pennsylvanians.
Express News: Editorial: PA Senate candidate, Mark Aurand, pushes for economic change in Harrisburg
Lancaster Intelligencer: Editorial: “Endorsing Schreckengost” Can Gary Schreckengost, democrat in state Senate District 36 make it to office without “playing politics?”
The Times-Tribune: Turf war toll rising

Blogs
Pittston Politics: Bolin gets sworn in, Bonin feathers were ruffled
Citizens’ Call: Research Center Report on PA Economy Gives State C-Grade
Lehigh Valley Ramblings: Brown Denies Change in Accrual Rate Planned, But Watch Those Medical Benefits

Delaware Valley Dems Gather to Push for Infrastructure

Trivedi-BoyleA group of Delaware Valley Democrats held a joint press conference last week in Reading to advocate for improving the region’s infrastructure and expanding its rail system.

Among those gathered were PA-13 Democratic nominee Brendan Boyle, PA-6 Democratic nominee Manan Trivedi and the Democratic candidate in the State Senate’s 26th district, John Kane. New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone was also present.

“We can create new American jobs that benefit American businesses already located in the Philadelphia region. You can’t outsource this work to another country and you can’t underestimate the value this work will provide to the safety and prosperity to the community,” Manan Trivedi said.

“For years we have heard all kinds of promises about extending rail out to the suburbs to places like Reading, and it seems it was just more political lip service,” Trivedi continued. “All you need to do is look at the parking lot of traffic during rush hours to know we need to alleviate congestion and provide quality access to our businesses to improve the economy.”

The appearance of so many local officials and candidates was meant to convey how important this issue is for the entire region.

“We know that solutions to these problems exist in the form of highway improvements and extending mass transit between economic hubs such as Center City and King of Prussia to take cars off our roads,” stated Brendan Boyle. “All we need now is the political leadership in Washington to make these plans a reality. Our future economic growth as a region depends on federal funding for our infrastructure, and I’m proud to stand with like-minded advocates on this issue such as Congressman Pallone and Manan Trivedi.”

Boyle is widely expected to prevail in his contest for the open seat left by Rep. Allyson Schwartz. Meanwhile, Trivedi is running in one of the DCCC’s target districts. Finally, John Kane is competing in perhaps the premier State Senate contest.

Clearly, these Democratic candidates believe infrastructure is a big political winner for them so expect to see more about it this coming fall.

White House Suggests President Obama Will Campaign in PA This Fall

Barack+Obama+President+Obama+CampaignsWith Labor Day around the corner, you should expect campaigning to ramp up and one of the chief signs of that particular phenomenon is the arrival of surrogates.

Certainly no surrogate draws more attention (positive or negative) than the President of the United States.

Given President Obama’s current approval ratings and the historical record of the President’s party suffering midterm losses, how much time the Commander-in-Chief planned to spend on the stump this fall has been a major question.

A report in Politico, however, suggests that the President will be visiting a number of blue states this fall, including Pennsylvania.

“The White House is putting the finishing touches on a post-Labor Day schedule that will send the president to states where he’s still popular, such as: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California, Obama officials and Democratic operatives said this week,” according to Politico.

“The better, more effective use of his time is to assist in states with key House races, such as Illinois, Pennsylvania and California, a senior administration official said,” the report explains. “Obama still retains strong support in the Democratic base, and he can motivate African-Americans and Latinos like few others can.”

Two key questions remain: Who will appear with the President on the campaign trail and will his support help them?

The most obvious candidate is gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf.

It remains to be seen whether the President’s presence would benefit him. Pres. Obama’s approval in the latest F&M poll stands at just 34% yet he did win this state twice.

On top of this, the Corbett campaign recently made clear they intend to portray Wolf as a “third term” for Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, a spokesman from the DCCC told PoliticsPA that he is not aware of any scheduled events at this time.

“Republicans like Mike Fitzpatrick and Ryan Costello are desperate to make this election about anything but their out of touch priorities because they know Pennsylvania voters will reject their agenda that stacks the deck in favor of the ultra wealthy and special interests by shifting the burden onto hard working middle class families and seniors,” Marc Brumer of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said.

PA-Gov Round-Up: Wine, Six-Packs and Gender Gaffes

PA-Governor-Mansion2We’re on the verge of Labor Day weekend, which means we’ve nearly reached the traditional start of the fall campaign season.

Yesterday, the general dynamics of the gubernatorial race were confirmed by the latest Franklin and Marshall poll that showed Wolf with a 25-point lead.

This last week of summer, however, was very much like the rest of the season. By which I mean it focused disportionately on ads, attacks, and the always controversial and ill-defined term “gaffe.”

Wolf

The Wolf campaign has wisely left most of their negative campaign work to FreshStartPA, the PAC they created after their split with Democratic Party Chair Jim Burn. This week the PAC launched a very successful effort to embarrass Gov. Corbett by spotlighting some comments he made on The Sam Lesante Show last month.

In an attempt to illustrate how the issue of liquor privatization affects PA citizen’s everyday lives, the Governor offered up a hypothetical example.

“I think a lot of people want to be able to walk into the grocery store,” the Governor stated. “Particularly, a lot of the women want to be able to go and buy a bottle of wine for dinner. Go down and buy a six-pack or two six-packs, and go home. Rather than, what I just described, is at least three stops in Pennsylvania.”

Gov. Corbett’s comments received mainstream attention (particularly from more progressive news outlets) as another example of sexist comments coming from a Republican. It was portrayed as the latest chapter in the “war on women”, an effort that has allowed Democrats to be extremely successful at capitalizing on certain tone-deaf statements.

Yet the question remains, was it an actual gaffe? Republicans obviously don’t seem to think so and the nature of the Governor’s comments allow them to be interpreted either way.

The episode does highlight the self-fulfilling nature of politicians who are gaffe-prone. If you’ve committed verbal faux pas in the past, future statements are more likely to be seen in a critical light. This is why, regardless of partisan ideology, the words of some political figures (ex. George W. Bush and Joe Biden) are more highly scrutinized than others (ex. Barack Obama and Dick Cheney).

Unfortunately for the Governor, this generally isn’t a problem that goes away.

Corbett

Meanwhile, the Corbett camp tried to hit Tom Wolf over what they feel are his own misstatements and gaffes.

The Corbett-Cawley team criticized the Wolf campaign for constantly changing the amount of revenue they believe a 5% severance tax could bring to the state. As the incumbent’s campaign detailed, at various times Wolf or his campaign have said it would be $600 million, $650 million, or $700 million.

“Just as Secretary Tom Wolf’s positions on the issues change with the wind, apparently so do his revenue projections,” said Corbett-Cawley Communications Director Chris Pack. “That’s no surprise given Tom Wolf’s reputation as Revenue Secretary, where projections were so far off they contributed down the road to a $4.2 billion budget deficit and the creation of a non-partisan office to check projections by the governor.”

The incumbent’s campaign also sought to dig up an old perceived gaffe of Wolf’s from a Democratic primary debate, when he answered a question about why the Wolf Organization’s board had no female members by saying his company’s management has “women in spades.”

The Governor’s team sought to contrast the fact that only two of the nineteen managerial members of the Wolf Organization are women to their own candidate’s record of appointing women to governmental posts.

“Governor Corbett’s has the first-ever female chief of staff in the history of Pennsylvania and also has seven women serving at the head of state agencies. Combined, they are responsible for nearly 80 percent of the state budget,” stated Women For Corbett-Cawley Chairwoman Bernie Comfort. “It’s clear that Governor Corbett values the expertise of the many intelligent, hard-working women in his administration.”

If you feel like the accusations that we’ve dealt with this week are too trivial, have no fear. Labor Day is around the corner and the general election is set to begin, so there should be plenty more trivial issues to choose from.

DEP: Water Wells Were Contaminated by Drilling 243 Times

gas-drillingPennsylvania’s environmental groups have been pushing for a long time to have the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) release the number of drilling incidents that have resulted in water contamination. Yesterday, they finally got their wish.

According to the Associated Press, there have been 243 cases of water wells being contaminated as a result of oil and natural gas drilling since 2008.

In addition to the environmental groups, the AP and various other new agencies also filed several open-record requests and even lawsuits in order to view the documents.

According to the documents, the problems included methane gas contaminating the wells as well as wastewater spilling into the supply. In some instances, the water wells just went completely dry.

The AP found that problems occurred in twenty-two counties throughout the state with most of them occurring in the Northeast.

“I guess this is a step in the right direction,” Thomas Au of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club chapter said of the public release of documents on drinking well problems. “But this is something that should have been made public a long time ago.”

Meanwhile, the Marcellus Shale Coalition blamed the state’s geology for the issues.

“[Pennsylvania] has longstanding water well-related challenges, a function of our region’s unique geology — where stray methane gas is frequently present in and around shallow aquifers,” MSC President Dave Spigelmyer responded in a statement. “Our industry works closely and tirelessly with regulators and others to ensure that we protect our environment, striving for zero incidents.”

8/29 Ups & Downs

Wolf maintains his lead, Adolph gets a new opponent and things are looking grim for Chaka Fattah. See who made this week’s list.

Down ArrowChaka Fattah. It’s been a cruel summer for Rep. Fattah, but this last week might end up being the worst. After watching his son be indicted earlier this month, it is beginning to look like the Congressman has become embroiled in a scandal all his own. On Wednesday, his former Chief of Staff Gregory Naylor plead guilty to campaign finance fraud. According to the DOJ, Naylor was obscuring where campaign money was coming from while also making sure some of it went to pay off the college debts of a son of a candidate. The report never named the candidate but there is little doubt about who it could be. Fall may turn out to be even worse for Chaka Fattah.

Up Arrow1Tom Wolf. The Wolf campaign obviously had a great primary season but it remained to be seen whether they could withstand the expected summer onslaught from Governor Corbett. After being hit by numerous attack ads, it turns out the Democratic nominee is no worse for wear. The latest F&M poll showed Wolf with a 25 point lead against the incumbent. The man with the Jeep is now firmly in the driver’s seat of this race.

Up Arrow1Down ArrowTom Corbett. As you can see above, despite an intensive effort, the Corbett-Cawley team couldn’t make a dent in Wolf’s lead. Even the campaign’s internal strategists seem to think the Governor is down in the race, although they still believe there is a path to victory. Additionally, Planned Parenthood announced they intend to hammer the Governor for the rest of the campaign with their own “Top Ten List” to oppose his re-election. On the other hand, Corbett finally got some good news yesterday when his HealthyPA plan was approved.

Down ArrowPresident Obama. It’s not yet known whether the President will be doing any public midterm campaigning. If so, it’s unlikely he’ll come to Pennsylvania, despite the fact that he has won it twice. The F&M poll showed his approval rating unchanged at 34%. It seems the six-year itch is still haunting the chief executive.

Down ArrowBill Adolph. What’s the only thing worse than facing a wealthy opponent? Facing a wealthy opponent with no warning. This week it was revealed that venture capitalist Charles Hadley had been named the Democratic nominee in HD-165 just days before the filing deadline. Now, the House Appropriations Committee Chairman with dreams of becoming Speaker has to first make sure he’ll still be around come January.

The tweet of the week goes more to a series of tweets than any single one, this back and forth between FreshStartPA spokesman Mike Mikus and PA GOP Communications Director Megan Sweeney. I highly suggest you read the whole 21 tweet timeline to get a good overview of the political combat occurring in the race for Governor.

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